Jan 15, 2021 - Politics & Policy

GOP Sen. Lankford apologizes to Black Oklahomans for electoral challenge

Picture of Sen. James Lankford

Photo: Anna Moneymaker-Pool/Getty Images

Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) has apologized to Black Oklahomans for challenging Joe Biden's Electoral College victory, saying he did not realize his actions would be seen as "casting doubt on the validity of votes" in predominantly Black cities like Atlanta, Philadelphia and Detroit.

The big picture: Lankford was part of a group of 11 senators, led by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who planned to object to the Electoral College certification unless Congress launched a commission to audit the election results. He later withdrew his objection after the pro-Trump siege of the Capitol.

Between the lines: "Lankford has been more involved with Black Tulsans, and particularly the historic Greenwood District, than any statewide Republican officeholder in decades," Tulsa World writes.

  • However, after Lankford's comments on the Senate floor, several state Black leaders said he should be removed from the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission, which is dedicated to educating communities about the massacre that killed 300 people.
  • Other Republicans involved in the election challenges, including Cruz and Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) have faced massive backlash.

What they're saying: "My action of asking for more election information caused a firestorm of suspicion among many of my friends, particularly in Black communities around the state," Lankford wrote in a letter addressed to "my friends in North Tulsa."

  • "I can assure you, my intent to give a voice to Oklahomans who had questions was never also an intent to diminish the voice of any Black American," he continued.
  • "I should have recognized how what I said and what I did could be interpreted by many of you. I deeply regret my blindness to that perception, and for that I am sorry."

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